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‘Kortteli’ – New Faculty of Architecture in Oulu

OOPEAA was one of the four architecture offices invited to create a proposal for developing new spaces for the Faculty of Architecture in Oulu on the Linnanmaa campus, a landmark of modern architecture.

Competition to Create New Spaces for the Faculty of Architecture in Oulu

Following the decision to relocate the Faculty of Architecture in Oulu, an invited architecture competition was organized. In moving the architecture school from its location in an old wooden building in downtown Oulu to the University campus on Linnanmaa about five kilometers away from the center, the goal was to facilitate interaction and exchange between students of different areas of specialization. The relocation of the School of Architecture on the Linnanmaa campus should help create an active social environment that serves both to enliven the campus as a whole and to provide opportunities for cross disciplinary exchange between students of architecture and students of other subjects.

The aim of the competition was to find a proposal that could serve as a foundation for further development in the task of converting the existing buildings on the eastern part of the Linnanmaa campus to create a new home for the Faculty of Architecture there. The goal was to preserve the special character of the campus with its structuralist expression while carefully considering the contemporary needs of its users. The new premises for studying and teaching architecture should provide an open and flexible learning environment with multifunctional spaces.

Contemporary Learning Spaces in the Context of a Landmark of Modern Structuralism

Originally based on the competition winning proposal by Kari Virta in 1968, the Linnanmaa campus has been built in several stages. The first four stages were completed between 1973 and 1980. They provide an example of the use of prefabricated concrete elements to create a logically structured modular system of buildings. The buildings form a network of units that are connected to each other with covered passageways that provide protection in the northern climate. As a strong example of structuralism in architecture, the campus is designated a built environment with remarkable cultural and historical value on a national scale.

OOPEAA’s proposal, ‘Kortteli’ provides a new layer to complement the campus today. Preserving the original organization of space, the new plan is carefully thought out to work well with the systematic principles of the modular design of the campus.

On the ground floor level, the learning spaces are large and open, yet well-defined and functional in character. The spatial arrangement of the learning environment is designed to be flexible and easily adjustable. Spaces can be divided or combined according to need with sliding doors. The offices for the faculty are placed on the second floor creating a more quiet zone for concentrated work and meetings.

Following the Principles of the Original Design

Following the principles of the original design, the interior circulation is well organized. The main entrance has been deliberately developed to create a focal point inviting the visitor in. Next to the main entrance lobby, a dedicated area has been carved out to form a shared gathering space for the use of the Faculty of Architecture.

At critical points, the hallways have been widened to improve the flow of movement in the space. Expanding the end point of one of the connective hallways, a space for the student council has been created in one of the rooms along the corridor.

Bringing Wood in Dialogue with Concrete

The jury praises the proposal ‘Kortteli’ (‘a city block’) for its careful consideration of the functionality and flexibility of use of the new spaces to be created for the Faculty of Architecture when they move to the Linnanmaa campus. The proposed new premises in the ‘Kortteli’ work beautifully in harmony with the modular principles of the spatial organization of the existing campus.

A large open space of wooden structure in the center of the building forms the heart of the new home of the Faculty of Architecture. The central space has a lot of light and is designed to lend itself to a multiplicity of uses. Providing a home base for the entire faculty, it encourages a sense of community and supports the natural flow of spontaneous interaction and exchanges. The wooden structure gives the space a strong identity. Brining wood in dialogue with concrete, it introduces a new element to the material palette of the campus.

Enlivening the Campus

In the statement by the jury, the arrangement of the exterior spaces is praised as one of the best in the competition. The square in front of the building is well defined and offers an inviting space for spending time outdoors. The main entrance has been carefully developed and and the hopper-shaped canopy gives a distinct identity to the main entrance while serving to orient people with its strong sculptural shape.

There are dedicated bicycle parking areas which are covered to provide shelter for the bikes and keep them dry from rain all year round. A new glass wall running the full length of the façade on the east side of the building opens the classrooms and study spaces to the surrounding yard and helps bring light to the interior parts in the middle of the building.

The classroom for the arts is placed so that it can be extended out to an art courtyard that can also serve as an outdoor exhibition space. The location of the art spaces easily facilitates evening use also by groups other than students and faculty.

To further enliven the school of architecture and to turn it into an active place throughout the day, the proposal suggests a series of container units for student housing to be placed on the roof. This complements the original principle of the modular arrangement of the campus and provides a contemporary take on it.

  • For more information about the competition and the statement of the jury in Finnish, see HERE.

Oulu, Finland

University of Oulu



3 100 m2

Anssi Lassila

Teresa Frausin, Kazunori Yamaguchi, Teemu Leppälä